Student project RemBRAINdt creates art from brain waves

Project started by student group NeurAlbertaTech takes first place—and $20,000 in funding—in province-wide neurotechnology competition.

Andrew Lyle - 11 January 2021

A student-created neurotechnology innovation network is making waves with new project RemBRAINdt, a program that generates abstract art based on a user’s thoughts by taking readings of brain activity. The team competed in several competitions this semester, taking first place in NeuroNexus 2020, an Albertan neurotechnology design competition.

“After taking readings, the user starts the ‘art screen” while the program uses a live feed of their brain activity to change aspects of a visual display based on the user’s ongoing emotional state, as classified by the deep learning model,” explained Eden Redman, group president of NeurAlbertaTech and team lead on the RemBRAINdt project.

The group’s flagship project in 2020 was RemBRAINdt, which began as a summer project via remote work with a group of six students. The program works by having a user complete a task that elicits emotional responses while the program records their brain signals by a electroencephalogram (EEG) headset. The program then uses deep learning techniques to make associations between brain activity and emotional state.

“Our group, NeurAlbertaTech, is focused on promoting interdisciplinary research and innovation in the neurotech space,” said Redman, who has a background in both applied neuroscience and fine arts. “We plan to ultimately implement virtual reality and 3D modeling into RemBRAINdt, adding additional art styles, and establishing supply chains for filling customer print orders, including 3D prints of brain-art.”

Since its inception in summer 2020, RemBRAINdt has received accolades locally and internationally. In October, the team presented remotely at the Neurotech Cup hosted in Russia, going on to win a People’s Choice Award and at Edmonton Startup Week. Shane Eaton and Quintin Hansen, of the original summer project team, continued on with RemBRAINdt at the Albertan neurotechnology design competition NeuroNexus 2020. The judging panel chose a selection of five innovators from across Alberta to help continue their projects—and RemBRAINDt took first prize, along with $20,000, in the entrepreneurial stream.

“Throughout building this project we learned how to effectively work remotely, as demanded by the ongoing pandemic,” said Redman. “Additionally, some of the team members had never built a project involving brain data before, others had minimal programming experience, so all-in-all the amount of valuable skills learned by the team over the course of the project was immense.”

Moving forward the team will be polishing up the program and focusing on lining up potential clients, as well as incorporating as an official business and seeking further funding to support development, said Redman. Current sponsors and supporters of NeurAlbertaTech include 8 Bit Cortex, Blueberry, Campus Alberta Neuroscience, the Faculty of Science, Muse,, NeuroNexus, the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute, NeuroTechX, and OpenBCI.

“Due to the pandemic limiting in-person events, we'll be pivoting from the original intention of manning a booth at conferences and conventions towards focusing on users who already have personal access to consumer grade EEG, in the short term,” said Redman of futures plans for the project. “This will serve both to monetize in the short term, with the additional benefit of increasing exposure of the product for when in-person events become common again, post-COVID.”

Interested in learning more about the RemBRAINdt project? Find out more on the project website. Want to learn more about the University of Alberta interdisciplinary neuroscience programs? Learn about the program offered jointly by the Faculty of Science and the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute.